News Room

EPA Proposal Strips Pollution Protections for Small Streams Nationwide

02/14/2019

Safe Drinking Water and Healthy Communities Are Now At Risk

Gaithersburg, MD – Protecting water quality in America’s rivers, lakes, and drinking water reservoirs depends on protecting the small streams that flow into them. The Clean Water Act did this successfully for decades. Now the Environmental Protection Agency wants to strip protections from millions of miles of tributary streams and millions of acres of wetlands, leaving them vulnerable to pollution and destruction.

“EPA’s proposal is irreparably flawed based on science, the fundamental purpose of the Clean Water Act, and common sense,” says Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director of the Izaak Walton League of America. “Every American now has the chance to speak up for the value of streams in their communities, the safety of their drinking water, and the outdoor recreation activities that depend on clean water and abundant wetlands.”

For decades, the Clean Water Act protected streams and wetlands based on how they affected water quality. Under EPA’s proposal, protections would depend exclusively on how frequently a stream has water running in it – not how it affects drinking water sources, healthy communities, or fish and wildlife habitat. For example, a stream that flows into a drinking water reservoir could lose protection from pollution if it does not have water in it every day of the year. One-third of Americans get their drinking water from public water supplies fed by streams that do not flow continuously.

This proposal would also eliminate Clean Water Act protections for wetlands that do not have a physical surface connection to another protected body of water (such as a river), leaving more than half the wetlands across America open to pollution and destruction. Again, this flies in the face of the Clean Water Act’s goal of protecting the integrity of our nation’s waters. Isolated wetlands perform a host of critical functions, including storing floodwaters, purifying drinking water, and providing critical fish and wildlife habitat. In fact, small wetlands in the northern Great Plains, known as “prairie potholes,” provide critical habitat for more than half of all the ducks in North America.

The Izaak Walton League strongly opposes EPA’s effort to scale back clean water protections because it is not supported by science, the law, or common sense. We urge Americans to tell EPA that this proposed rule fails to protect drinking water supplies, public health, and the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy – all of which depend on clean water.

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Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America (www.iwla.org) protects America's outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.